Munch

Wed 5th – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Poppy McLean

at 09:45 on 14th Aug 2015

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Upon realising that I was about to sit down to a “raucous” comic creation on the subject of BDSM, I, an almost painfully sheltered teen, inwardly prepared myself for 40 minutes of gut-churning discomfort, readying to cringe myself completely inside-out whilst turning a progressively darker shade of magenta. What I did not prepare myself for was to emerge just over half an hour later, unable to wipe the grin off my face until I had skipped all the way down the Mound to a few breathless rounds of such inspired showstoppers as “Who Will Buy This 18-Inch Dildo?” [lewd Victorian orphans not included].

The show was phenomenal. The chemistry between the cast’s two members (Will Cousins and Ben Richards – both born showmen) was as electrifying as some of the more outlandish contraptions they described, the puns fizzing off left right and centre. Not a word was wasted in Richard’s magnificent script, which effused highbrow verbal play and flippant smut in a cocktail of sheer entertainment – any discomfort was soon banished, and the laughs came thick and fast to the finish.

The two performers took the breathless audience on a kaleidoscopically colourful journey through their eyes as somewhat green visitors to a BDSM convention (or ‘munch’). With minimal props but maximal observational prowess they conjured up vivid characters (in both senses of the word), both those present at the self-proclaimed “Kinkfest” and more general stereotypes of this strange new word – the Hydes to the “respectable, electable” accountant- and call-centre manager- Jekylls of everyday life. A hugely diverse collection of songs, poetry and even oriental rap gleefully spelt out the nuts and bolts of BDSM to the crowd, ensuring that what could have been an alienating or aggressively rude show felt throughout like an exuberant voyage of discovery in which we were all able to peek into the vibrant land painted by Richards’ words, without feeling pressured to do anything more than spectate from a distance. The atmosphere was consistently playful, rhythmic, eccentric – think Dr Seuss on Red Bull. In a gimp-suit.

In short, from the moment I felt my “badonkadonk beplonked”, it was clear that Richards and Cousins had created something uniquely brilliant and refreshingly fun in Munch: do not miss this grin-widening, jaw-slackening, eye-opener of a show.

Just maybe leave your gran at home.

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Dominic Spirra

at 11:53 on 14th Aug 2015

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It was about twenty minutes into the performance Munch that I first had the presence of mind to look around the room. A minute and sweltering dark vault was illuminated by an old-school overhead projector. The last time I was taught with projected plastic sheets was in prep school and although discipline was on the syllabus, BDSM was decidedly not, as it is in Ben Richard’s play. Whilst I inspected the room, Lesson Four: Part Two was being offered up for inspection – ‘Tit Torture’ by a man in tight underwear, a leather waistcoat and a red neckerchief.

The pure genius of Richard’s play ensued utterly blinded me to the potential absurdity of it – two men teaching a packed room of strangers about BDSM, in detail, using a myriad of tricks from song and dance to puppetry. I only wish prep school had been this captivating.

Munch is an hour long formal poem about bondage, written by Richards and performed by both him and Will Cousins with expert precision and ludicrous flamboyance. The relentless machine gun fire of rhyming comic brilliance deemed the task of note-taking an impossibility, yet I have already caught myself several times already singing the song ‘Who Will Buy This 13 Inch Dildo’ under my breath after the performance.

At times uncomfortable and perpetually strange, Munch was at its best during the awkward silences throughout the performance, when the line judge of decency had been left a Bukaked mess on the periphery.

The actors conveyed their skill with the many masks they were able to successfully conjure, utilising the light of the projector and the few props they had to immense effect. At one point Richards views Cousins through binoculars and narrates his movements David Attenborough-esque.

This scene was indicative of the performance itself: utterly unlike anything I have ever seen yet simple, concise and hysterical. I never thought I would describe a transvestite dressed as Doc from The Seven Dwarfs dancing to an X rated version of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ as sublime, but then I have never heard an actor shout “taste my electrodes bitch!” at an audience either.

The Munch experience is somewhat difficult to distil into a few words. Emerging from the dark, enclosed room one is left with a sheen of sweat and feelings of confusion, no doubt commensurate with the BDSM experience itself. Would I go again? Yes, and I may well go the same time tomorrow. Would a someone else? Perhaps not – but I urge you to try it at least once.

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